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  1. You have that right! I don’t know of any other line that offers such a commodious smoking room as the Fantasia Class ships of MSC. That room is just perfect for relaxing.
  2. Thanks RK. Funny thing...I don’t smoke cigars on a regular basis but I won’t pass up a good opportunity either. The last cigar I smoked was in October 2017. We were onboard MSC Divina and had stopped in Jamaica. I got off and walked over to a group of concession stands and found some great cigars with a few select Cubans among them. I bought two and got back onboard. The Divina has a beautiful smoking lounge beside the casino. I went in and smoked my cigar while sitting in a very comfortable chair and while admiring the old world motif and faux wood paneling. It was so relaxing that I actually dozed off and did not awaken until another cigar aficionado came into the room to smoke his cigar...lol. It’s a shame that beautiful room goes unused. I have written to MSC management and suggested they turn the room into an exclusive “high roller room” as an extension of the casino next door. The room would have a craps table and tables for Texas Holdem poker as well as machines with 10 dollar minimums. It already has a beautiful bar. Of course there would be a minimum entry fee to keep the room from overcrowding. 😁
  3. The Victoria became “the oldest ship still sailing“ at one time. She really was “old world” and much loved by all who sailed in her. I had a lawyer friend of mine who took a ten day cruise on her and he swore it was the best cruise of all the cruises he had taken. It didn’t hurt that he was of Italian descent and all the crew were Italian. He told me that his son had sent him a case of Champagne for the cruise...so he literally floated along with the ship. The dining room was completely paneled with a paneled vaulted arched ceiling and a small balcony for the orchestra to sit and play during dinner. The menus were exquisite with that special Italian influence. I probably had more than 100 of those menus in my collection. RK, that ship was the Gallilao which became the first Celebrity ship...Meridian. I sailed on her when she was Gallilao. If that picture was 1986 then she was definitely Meridian.
  4. Thank you Marco, Shipgeeks and Ryndam for you pics! Indeed the Regent Sea, ex Gripsholm and ex Navarino was a beautiful ship. The ship had one feature that I found extremely enjoyable. The gym had a beautiful Swedish steam sauna made of teak wood. The sauna was open 24 hours per day! You could enjoy an incredible sauna experience after a night of complete debauchery...even at 2:00 AM. Needless to say I was witness to some interesting participants in those wee hours...lol. I also remember a wonderful experience. It was my habit to take a walk after dinner and stare at the sea as the ship sailed along. The Regent Sea had a complete Promenade Deck that wrapped all the way around the ship and was partially enclosed on both sides. I was in the enclosed deck looking out through an open window and a man came along and stood by me also looking out. I could tell right away that we were both lovers of the sea and enjoyed the simple pleasure of watching the sea pass by as the ship moved along. This man then lit a large cigar...something else that I enjoyed on rare occasions. I commented to him how nice and peaceful it was just to watch the ocean. He readily agreed and went on to tell me of his experiences. I found out he was Cuban and, as a young man, had driven trucks to South America during WW II. He told me he now lived in Miami having escaped Castro’s Cuba. I then commented on how nice his cigar smelled. It really was a nice cigar...my nose never lies. He then offered me one of those great cigars. I thanked him profusely as I had forgotten to buy a couple when we were in Jamaica, another good place to buy cigars. He introduced himself as Neilo and then told me he was the horse trainer for the Partegas family. Partegas cigars are famous. He told me Senior Partegas gives him boxes of these cigars. Needless to say, Neilo and I became good friends for the duration of that cruise.
  5. Hi RK, I suspect that the original founders were the victims of a short term lease on the ship. I remember that Lalikas forced them out and took over. I’m sure there was a good story behind the scenes.
  6. Thank you RK, The story of Regency Cruises is an interesting one. The line was started by two partners who had been with Paquet Cruises which was a French company. The concept behind Regency was to take older ships that had been famous on the transatlantic run and turn them into cruise ships. The main idea was to offer a cruise at a reasonable price that featured a First Class experience recalling the glamour and quality of the transatlantic era. I was able to sail with Regency in 1988 on board the Regent Sea. She was originally the iconic Gripsholm of the Swedish American Line. She had been built in Italy in 1957-58. I was attracted to the ship because she had been an early dual purpose ship built for longer Cruises. The interior of the ship was classic. The old First Class cabins were really beautiful. They were laid out in blond mahogany with lots of closet space and special shelves for shoes. Each stateroom had a large bathroom with a full bathtub and there was an extra sink in the connecting hallway. These were large cabins and extremely comfortable. The passenger reception area was decked out with fresh flowers. There were fresh flowers everywhere throughout the ship. The ship fit like an old pair of your favorite Cole Haan slippers. The public rooms were real classics. The forward observation room was the entire width of the ship decorated in a cool green with lots of plant. That room was one of the nicest I had ever seen and very enjoyable to sit in. There was a smaller room behind that was called The Living Room. It was a paneled room with a giant screen TV and long couches. They would play VHS movies at night...again very comfortable. To top this off the cruise began in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We were able to spend a few days in Mo Bay. We had a hotel room that opened onto a garden that bordered on the sea. The dining room was the star of this show. The walls were lined with banquets...very romantic. The catering was supplied by Apollo and it was some of the best I ever had. The chefs were French as was the Maitre D’. Our waiter was from Spain and had worked In some of the great hotels. He was excellent. The culinary effort was Olympic. Every plate was art...the menus were exemplary. The quality of the food was second to none...prime rib, steaks, fish, etc. including Beluga caviar. Every night there would be a themed Midnight Buffet. One night would be Italian, another night there would be NY Deli and so on. It was some of the best I had ever had. The Grand Buffet at the end of the cruise featured an entire roast pig! Regent Cruises was very successful from the get go. So successful that the owner of the ship took over the operation about 4 years later. Antonios Lalikas was the villain in this drama. He took over Regent Cruises and drove it into the ground. There is no telling where the company could have gone if the original partners had been allowed to continue operations. Their original product was one of the best I ever experienced.
  7. The next topic up for discussion would be the rise and fall of Regency Cruises. This is an interesting story that entails what can go wrong when a great product gets taken over by an unscrupulous operator. More to come!
  8. Hi Marga, Just a few ideas for your consideration...How about this. Fly into the USA...Amsterdam to Boston. You will want to do this in late August or September...avoid the heat. Rent a car and see New England, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Fly down to Florida Take in the sights then sail from Fort Lauderdale or Miami for a 1 week cruise to Mexico. Then rent a car and drive to Orlando, see the sights and drive on to New Orleans. From there you will have your choice of the states in the Southwest. Then fly back to Florida and take a repositioning cruise in October/November back to Europe. Good Luck
  9. Hi Marga, Hopefully by the time you are ready to go all the ships will be sailing again. Your trip sounds like a big one. Many times a European comes to America expecting to see everything. They do not realize how big the country really is. If you want to cruise to Mexico you have to leave from Florida or Texas and maybe New Orleans. Cruising back to Europe is best done on the Southern Atlantic route for the smoothest sailings. Most ships reposition from America in the Spring and Fall. Good luck!
  10. Cheer up! With the Covid you might get your wish...lots of sea days with an overnight at the out island. Seriously...what I like about a transatlantic are the days at sea. You get into a relaxing rhythm While at sea. Walking the ship in the mornings, swimming before lunch, a nap in the afternoon, tea at tea time and cocktails before dinner with a visit to the casino late at night...perfect. “There is no feeling in this world like the one you get when your feet are planted on the deck of a moving ship.” I love the isolation...no phones...no demands...no stress...just blissful calm. I even tune out on my iPad. Watching the sea go by is also a favorite...the sunrises and sunsets...sublime.
  11. The first question would be...where are you going? As in where do you live? I’m thinking the UK? The QM2 sails on the North Atlantic route. This is where you can get into rough seas...not so much between May and September but you never know. All the other ships reposition...usually March to May and September toDecember. Most of these ships sail the Southern Atlantic and experience smoother seas and milder temperatures. We love to cross the Atlantic in October or May. We have always found the southern route to be smooth and comfortable temps.
  12. Hi Yanks23, If you are sailing to Florida you will be in the Southern Atlantic. You should have no problems as hurricane season is over. There is nothing better than a smooth crossing...most of the time...enjoy...no worries.
  13. I find it amazing when I look back and think of what things were like in 1972 when JMG first published The Only Way To Cross. JMG was lamenting the loss of all the great liners at that time. He likened it to a good friend getting hit by a car while crossing the street. The list of ships leaving service seemed endless. Little did we know that a resurgence of ocean liners was on the horizon. Knute Kloster set the wheel in motion when he bought the SS France to become the NCL Norway. That one move set in motion the craze for bigger cruise ships. The Norway became the trail blazer for the cruise lines around the world. Norway had all the hallmarks of what we see today in the modern cruise giants. It is amazing how some ships go unnoticed and others become so well loved. The Norway always stood out and was well loved by those who sailed on her.
  14. I have a great story about meeting JMG. I had all his books and had seen him on TV many times. John Maxtone Graham was and is considered the Dean of The College of Ocean Liner History. I wrote a great tribute to him when he passed away several years ago. If any of you have not read “The Only Way To Cross” I suggest you get a copy and be prepared to be hugely entertained. We were onboard the Norway in 1993. We were in a sky suite as previously described. As we were getting ready for the first formal night in the legendary Chambord dining room, the former First Class dining room, lined with elm paneling and a grand staircase that added to the romance of the room. As we were getting ready in our cabin I had the TV tuned in to a John Maxtone Graham documentary from The Only Way To Cross. As that segment ended JMG and Mary MG were dressed in their formals and commenting that they were now prepared to go down to dinner. Now this was part of the video that was playing on the ship’s TV. We were ready to go down to dinner and shut the TV off and exited the cabin. As we were about to descend the stairs I looked up to the floor above and there was JMG and Mary standing at the head of the stairs dressed in their formals! Of course I did a triple take...LOL. For a moment I thought that we were a part of the video we had just been watching. I waited for them to come down and introduced myself. I explained that I was experiencing deja vu as we had just seen them on TV. We all had a big laugh. I told JMG that I had every book he had written and I was an historian. He said something about liner enthusiasts and I said to him...”who else do you know that owns all the volumes of Kludas?” (Arnold Kludas is the famous ocean liner biographer. His books, about 11 volumes, catalog all the passenger liners of the world). We all had a good laugh. So that was how we met JMG. I kept running into John during the cruise and we attended his lectures. He was a great raconteur and a perfect gentleman. His liner lectures were the best I ever heard.
  15. Hi Rob, We were able to have dinner and spend a few hours wandering the Oceanic when she was in Boston for a tech show. I loved those special suites on the upper deck...they even had names! Everyone who ever sailed on her loved the Oceanic.
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